The circus had come to town. It was a big entertainment event and families flocked to see the show. One of the exciting programs was to let little boys ride on a pony and whoever could ride that pony would get the prize of five dollars. Five dollars was a mighty large sum for a boy in the era circa 1830. Well, the circus really did not intend to part their five dollars. You see, the pony was not an ordinary pony. It was trained to unseat their riders with sudden stops and starts, artful bucks and abrupt wheeling. It was meant to be a hilarious show, throwing the boys off from the pony to the straw-padded ground.
Some boys tried it and were thrown off. There was a little eleven years old boy watching the pony intensively, studying the pony's technique and evaluating its weakness. After learning its various skills, he was ready to tackle the pony. When the ringmaster called out whether any more boys would like to ride that pony, this little boy emerged from the audience. He leaped on the pony. No matter how hard the pony tried to throw him off, he locked his arms around its neck and held on. The ringmaster, knowing that he was about to lose, unfairly tossed a large monkey to the boy's shoulders, intending to distract the boy. Even at that young age, the boy showed the quality of the ability to focus on his endeavor, and the iron determination to finish the job. He was not distracted at all even the monkey pulled his hair and scratched his neck. When the boy rode a few more rounds, the ringmaster gave up and announced that boy was the winner. Know thyself and thy enemy, and you will always prevail. He got the maxim even at such a young age. The audience applauded loudly. However, the town folks were not surprised, for they knew that boy who was extraordinarily skillful in handling horses and ponies. Some of them had even asked the little boy to break their horses and trained their ponies, in their town, Georgetown, on the Ohio frontier.
With the hints on the story, you probably know the identity of the little boy. He is one and the only, Hiram Ulysses Grant, and later known as, Ulysses Simpson Grant.
Do you know which West Point student who gets his recommendations from people having the highest positions in the United States? Try this. How about getting recommendations from two U.S. Presidents and two General-in-Chiefs? I don't think there is any other recommendations that could top that.
That boy was Ulysses Simpson Grant III (the third).
The letter said: "To the President of the United States,
It was the General's last signature. At that time, Ulysses S. Grant III was three years old. Many years later, Grant III mentioned he vaguely remembered his grandfather, and it was a privilege to know his grandfather. Another General-in-Chief, William Tecumseh Sherman endorsed it. In 1898, President William McKinley also endorsed it. Thus, Grant III had letters of recommendation from 2 Presidents and 2 General-in-Chiefs.
I could say that Ulysses S. Grant III, had the strongest letters of recommendation of all West Point prospective students in all U.S. history.
Ulysses S. Grant III indeed went to West Point, served the U.S. Army and retired as a Major General.
(Used several reference books.) (1999)
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First posted on March 2, 2001
Uploaded on current server: March 19, 2009